Metaphors as a Mirror of Intolerance

Is Reporting on Refugees Changing at All?


  • Vesna Lazović University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts, Slovenia



refugees, immigrants, British online newspapers, metaphors, reporting


Metaphors have the power to structure our perceptions and understanding, and their repeated use in media discourse can establish prejudiced opinions of the readership. This media weapon is extremely powerful in changing ideological beliefs and systems, since the media treatment of vulnerable groups can deeply root negative implications and negative attitudes towards these people. Although numerous studies have highlighted this problem, the inhumane treatment of refugees has not changed in the years that have passed since the beginning of the refugee crisis in 2015. This paper attempts to qualitatively examine the reporting on refugees from June to September 2018 in three English online newspapers, namely The Guardian, The Telegraph and The Independent. A total of thirty randomly selected newspaper articles were analysed, all of which reported on different events related to refugees and the refugee crisis. The paper primarily aims to identify how these newspapers reported on various events during the four months and to show which metaphors were frequently used for refugees. The results reveal that the media reports are still negatively coloured and that negative metaphors are still in use. Apart from the ubiquitous water metaphors, the reports also contain war metaphors as well as metaphors describing refugees as animals, commodities or objects. Labelling and portraying refugees as a threat is very dangerous, as it promotes negative social images and also legitimizes oppressive national practices. The use of intolerant language can lead to negative public images of refugees, while at the same time it can promote xenophobia, marginalization and discrimination. For that reason, the rhetoric on refugees and the refugee crisis should be promptly changed.


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How to Cite

Lazović, V. (2022). Metaphors as a Mirror of Intolerance: Is Reporting on Refugees Changing at All?. Journal for Foreign Languages, 14(1), 71–84.